26th September 2023

'Chad Ashby says'



"God Will Bring You Through
Finding Strength for the Storms You Face"

How do we weather seasons in life when friends are far away, fair havens have faded from the horizon, we are storm-tossed at sea, and everything we need has been stripped away?

In seasons like this, many of us (myself included) feel like we need something new - a new word from God that applies directly to our situation.

In Acts 27, after more than two years of waiting, Paul was finally sailing for Rome.
All of his training and experience had prepared him to preach the gospel before Caesar himself.

But on the journey from Jerusalem to Rome, Paul faced one of the fiercest storms of his life. And the strength he needed did not come from a new promise, but an old one - a promise God had given to him years before.

You can imagine Paul onboard the ship: Jesus, I know you've called me to Rome. You promised that I'll testify to you there. Why are you making this so hard?

Have you ever felt this way?
Jesus, you've called me to this church. You've called me to this job. You've called me to this marriage, this family, this town. God, I'm just trying to do something for you - why do you make it so impossible?

The promise that Paul would stand before Caesar is not new. Two years earlier, Jesus himself stood by Paul in prison and promised, "As you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome".

In the midst of Paul's terrifying storm, he didn't need a new promise or a new revelation - he needed to remember the promise God had already given.

Pragmatism says, "Abandon ship and take your chances rowing for shore."
Faith says, "Stay aboard a sinking ship and trust God's promises."

In our churches, how quickly do we abandon God's sure promises when something more practical appears on the horizon? In our daily lives, the Scriptures are great when we feel hopeless, but how quick are we to jump ship the moment a more practical solution appears?

After Paul convinces the sailors to cut away the ship's boat, the story comes to a crashing finish.

Striking a reef, they ran the vessel aground. The bow stuck and remained immovable, and the stern was being broken up by the surf.
But the centurion ..ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and make for the land, and the rest on planks or on pieces of the ship. And so it was that all were brought safely to land.

We all knew this was how the story would end. We had no doubt God would keep his promise.

Isn't that a funny thing?
When we read God's word, we never wonder how the story is going to end. It's a foregone conclusion - God will keep his promise because he always does.

But how will God keep his promise?
That gets more to the heart of it, doesn't it?
That's the question we find ourselves asking over and over again in the storm: How?

When Paul needed reassurance that God was going to deliver him, God didn't tell him how. In fact, God simply reminded him of the promise he had already made.

In the midst of the storm, we become convinced: I need a new promise.
I need to know how.
And God comes to us and says, "You don't need a new promise. You need to hear the same promise again." God has promised you will be brought safely through - you will reach your journey's end in Jesus.

In the crazy storms, the shipwrecks, the starless nights and sunless days, we don't know how God will save us.
But we do have his promises.
And when we get to the end of our lives, we will be able to say,
"I had no idea how he would save me, how I would make it to the end.
But never once did he fail to keep his promise."

Un-edited version, and Bible references avaiable, on request

Chad Ashby (@chad_ashby)
is a graduate of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Grove City College.
He teaches literature, math, and theology at Greenville Classical Academy.
You can follow him at his blog After+Math.

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